Independent agency Magnum Opus Partners (MOP) have a long history of polling the public to find out what advertising they like and dislike, with their well-respected MOP Awareness Study, conducted by Think Global Research.
So imagine if you poll 1,500 people that reflect the general Australian population today and ask them which ads they’ve seen that really made an impact on them: ads that they really liked, or disliked, by just letting them nominate any ad from amongst the thousands they see every week.
And then the majority of those Aussies come back and tell you they can’t think of a single one.
In previous surveys there have usually been clear winners – in the past, for example, iconic ads like “Not Happy, Jan” for Yellow Pages, and “Which Bank” for the Commonwealth Bank stood out from the crowd.
But this year, a massive 857 people – 57 per cent of the sample – couldn’t indicate even a single ad that they could remember feeling positive about.
Not only that, but an even bigger percentage – 66 per cent – couldn’t think of one ad they actually disliked, whereas previously the survey had found ads that seemed to drive everyone nuts. While a few market segments – gambling ads, for example, “screaming retail”, and insurance and banking – seem to be polarising, no one advertiser seemed to be saying anything much that stirs people up very negatively.
Not being able to remember any ad may have been the top reply for respondents, however, Coles, Woolies and ALDi ads were equal second for the most recalled ads. Kmart came fifth, McDonald’s sixth and Qantas rounded out the top seven.
Commenting on the survey, agency director of strategy Stephen Yolland commented: “It’s been awhile, so we were very interested to see what’s changed. And it’s very obvious from the results that consumers today seem increasingly underwhelmed by the advertising on offer.
“Almost nothing seems to be both cutting through and impressing people. There are successful exceptions, but certainly very little is being spontaneously remembered. Which means we all seem to be spending an awful lot of money just to leave people ‘cold’, and as ad agencies if we’re going to be responsible with our clients’ money then we need to look at that.
“We all know that advertising works in different ways, and just because an ad or a brand doesn’t come up in an unprompted survey like this as being liked and remembered doesn’t mean it isn’t doing any good. It can perform better when people are prompted to recall it, or it can work well when seen or heard in conjunction with other mediums, such as radio, billboards, online, catalogues, or other reminders.
“But to have almost nothing producing a ‘watercooler effect’ that is strong enough to be picked up in a survey like this does suggest that both the creativity and the entertainment value of the work we do has declined somewhat, and also possibly that there is now so MUCH advertising in the market that many ads seem to be being effectively ‘tuned out’ by consumers.
“We also suspect that the big switch of media dollars into online has resulted in a fall
in product and brand awareness from the days when the vast majority of media money was spent on TV. Nearly two billion Australian advertising dollars now go into online. That’s a huge switch in advertiser behaviour. Where that growth in online expenditure has replaced expenditure in other mediums, as opposed to supplementing it, there may well have been a fall in both ad and brand standout.”
Online ads might be useful – indeed they are, just as with any medium – but we think these findings suggest that they are pretty much useless in terms of creating brand positivity, as they are nearly always transactional in nature. And frankly, it is very hard to convey emotion in a banner ad or create an emotional connection with it, when all’s said and done.”